Naming a baby helps establish an identity that influences a child throughout life. Children named after venerated ancestors may feel the need to uphold the integrity of the ancestor, while those given unique names may follow a path as creative as their name. Adults in the child's life are influenced by the child's name, too, and considering the ramifications of a child's name makes baby-naming a fun but daunting task.
The significance of baby names is the subject of many books and studies. One book — Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know about the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted to Ask — was written by Dalton Conley, a sociology professor at New York University. His first child, a daughter, was born two months early. Conley and his wife had settled on a name starting with the letter E but they didn't have a full name in mind. They named her E Harper Nora Conley, with the expectation she'd complete her first name when she was ready. She's now 16 and loves being E.
Her little brother was a more active participant in his own naming. His full name is now Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles Conley. At age 4, he chose to add Heyno and Knuckles so his parents had his name officially changed to reflect his desire.
Conley feels that unusual names make children better at controlling impulses due to teasing from other kids and people asking where their name came from. He personally feels that the name itself doesn't bear as much weight on a child's personality as do the influence of the parents who would give such names.
The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility by Gregory Clark compares first names of freshman students at the University of Oxford with the general population and finds students with traditional names are more likely to be enrolled than those with unusual names.
Researchers Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer found that 40% of the black girls in California in 2003 had names that not a single white girl had; a reflection, perhaps, of their parents' feelings about ethnic heritage.
In a study titled "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal?" researchers Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan prepared two sets of resumés identical in every way except that one set was for fictional Emily Walsh and Greg Baker and the other for equally fictional Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones. Emily and Greg received 50% more calls from potential employers than Lakisha and Greg, even when the employer advertised equal opportunity and affirmative action.
Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons published a study in 2007 called "Moniker Maladies" which revealed that graduate students whose names begin with C or D had a lower grade point average than students with A and B names. The A and B names were also more likely to get into better law schools.
Source: Kremer, William. "Does a baby's name affect its chances in life?" BBC News Magazine. The BBC. Apr 11, 2014. Web. Apr 18, 2014.